Thursday Thing: An Ode to the Speedo
Anyone else still suffering from Olympic withdrawal? I keep feeling like there must be a race I should be watching or interview I should be reading, but alas, the athletes have packed up their medals and headed home. I am an Olympic super-fan, and nothing says “Olympics” to me like men in tiny Speedo swimsuits. In the real world, tiny swimsuits on men are often a fashion fail—as the only men brave enough to wear them at the gym or on public beaches are European, elderly, indifferent to public opinion, or all three. But in the Olympics, the speedo far from a punchline—it’s a testament to the body as a machine.
And what a glorious machine it is—whether we’re talking about the long, lean swimmers with their wide shoulders and smooth skin, the burly water-polo players with their bulging muscles and hairy chests, or the elegant divers with their flexible limbs.
The speedo is a cheeky nod to the need for uniforms at all—it’s a little slash of color that says “we don’t really need clothes at all.” It showcases the male form like nothing else, yet it is utterly utilitarian: simply cover up the goods and get to work with the minimal amount of fabric necessary. It’s refreshing minimalism in an age of baggy shorts, ultra-padding, and compression sleeves as fashion statements. Not that a speedo can’t be a fashion statement—Ryan Lochte has been known to wear a hot pink one on occasion and the Brits’ patriotic flag speedos are made of awesome.
In recent Olympics, there have been fewer speedos on display as the male swimmers have moved to high performance compression suits that go down to their knees. But God bless the divers who have kept the same wardrobe since the 1970s. And the water polo players who make up for their ridiculous bonnets by wearing the classic tiny suits and wrestling with each other. And as a special bonus, some water polo teams still wear the old school drawstring waist suits—we’re just one tussle away from a free show.
This year’s “it” speedo boy was Britain’s Tom Daley. Entire Tumblr streams are devoted to him and his microscopic uniforms. He’s not camera shy at all—check out the extensive pictures and videos in his official galleries.
Tom’s a bit young for my tastes—I like my eye-candy at least drinking age. But 32 year-old American diver Troy Dumais has offered me guilt-free ogling for several Olympiads now and earns my gold-medal vote for best-speedo of the 2012 games. How about you? Did you have a favorite speedo-wearing athlete from the 2012 games? Are there other sports with uniforms you love? Love the new compression suits for swimmers or miss the old speedo standbys?
Missing the Olympics as much as me? Going for Gold, an anthology of Olympic themed m/m shorts from MLR Press and edited by EM Lynley is out tomorrow, August, 31st. There are many different sports and pairings represented. My story Swimming the Distance stars a swimmer (no surprise!) and his long-suffering boyfriend:
When denial turns to deception, love may not be enough to keep Kyle and Bodhan’s relationship afloat. Hours before leaving for the Olympics, Kyle Christopher discovers that his long-time boyfriend, an Olympic long distance swimmer, has done an interview where he denied being gay. Despite sharing a home and a dog with Kyle, three-time Olympian Bodhan Petrov isn’t ready to come out publicly. After Bodhan’s lies start stacking up, Kyle’s not sure he can keep waiting quietly in the shadows. When their estrangement takes a toll on Bodhan’s performance, both must decide where their priorities lay once and for all.
Want to know more? Visit my website for a sneak peek, but before you go, comment to this post (with your email addy) and be entered into a drawing for a copy of the ebook Going for Gold. As a parting gift, I leave you with the British diving team (including Tom Daley!) dancing in their speedos to “Sexy and I Know It.” You’re welcome.
Tom Daley & Co rock the speedo:
(The USA swim team did a similar spoof music video—their video is heavier on the girls, but there’s some great speedo action in the latter half of the video).
One of Annabeth Albert’s earliest memories is watching Greg Louganis dive for gold in the Los Angeles Olympics. She hasn’t missed an Olympics since. When she’s not cheering for Team USA in everything from gymnastics to judo, she’s a Pacific Northwest writer of contemporary romance. Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers. Please join her online to learn what she’s working on, what books she’s reading and loving, and to join her pursuit of the perfect date-night movie. Visit Annabeth’s website or tweet @AnnabethAlbert .
(All still photos used under Creative Commons license – Photographer Charles McCain)